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What does Sky offer start-ups?

Partnering with technology start-ups to accelerate innovation

25 European Corporate Startup Stars reveals which large companies are doing the most to support new firms. These case studies highlight some specific examples of active and successful collaboration between corporates and start-ups.

A good example of…

Strategic investments

European headquarters: London, UK

Geographical reach: UK, Ireland, Germany, Italy and Austria

Sector/s of interest: Technology, media, entertainment and telecoms

Works with start-ups through:

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  • Selective commercial partnerships
  • Minority equity investments (no set formula as they remain opportunistic). Past transactions have ranged between $1m and $10m


Why does Sky work with start-ups?

Sky, Europe’s leading entertainment company, partners with start-ups to accelerate innovation and deliver better experiences and products to its customers.

How does Sky work with start-ups?

Sky has a focused approach to working with start-ups. It uses this to carry out investments and strike commercial partnerships.

Sky has invested in over a dozen start-ups in the media and technology sectors, including companies such as Jaunt, DataXu and Whistle Sports. Sky works with start-ups in a highly strategic way – for example, exchanging relevant expertise and insights, or collaborating to develop better products and services.

Sky also purchases the products and services of a number of start-ups, as a customer. This helps it become a more efficient organisation. In addition to this, start-ups help Sky to deliver a better experience and products to its customers.

What has Sky done to facilitate collaboration with start-ups?

Sky’s senior management believe in looking for innovative solutions both inside and outside of the organisation. They support engaging with early-stage companies as a part of this. Senior level involvement in initial discussions ensures an alignment of strategies and objectives between Sky and start-ups, and also enables quick decision-making.

Sky meets a large number of start-ups each year, but believes it is important to be selective in pursuing partnership opportunities to ensure focus on key strategic priorities. This also helps to create maximum value for both Sky and the companies it works with.

Sky is exemplary in terms of its investment strategy, which creates a ‘win-win’ relationship that benefits both the corporation and the start-ups it works with. By focussing on minority investments, Sky can provide all the support start-ups need, while helping them to create a product that will benefit its core activities – for example, the streaming platform, Roku.

Success story: Roku

One of Sky’s first investments was Roku, a leading streaming platform. It helped Sky to launch its NOW TV product in the UK, which offers consumers a flexible way to watch pay-TV.

Roku is now helping extend the NOW TV brand in Sky’s other territories, most recently Italy, and is deploying its white label strategy on a global basis.


“While Sky makes numerous investments, they do not usually acquire. They let the investee company grow and profit from the investment and partnership, while simultaneously growing their own business”

Candace Johnson, Corporate Startup Stars judge


What can other corporates learn from Sky about working with start-ups?

  • A ‘win-win’ investment strategy, which enables both a corporate and a start-up to profit from success, creates a strong relationship
  • Selective investment in a limited number of start-ups enables these to be properly supported to achieve success
  • The involvement of Sky’s senior leaders in supporting start-ups ensures an alignment of strategies and objectives, and also speeds up decision making.


What is Sky looking for from the start-ups it works with?

Sky is aiming to accelerate innovation across its content, advertising, business-to-business (B2B) technology, and data verticals. In addition, it is also looking for efficiency and growth opportunities. To stand out, start-ups should clearly identify their products’ ‘use case’ and benefits for Sky.

To find out more about what Sky is looking for from start-ups, please see here.

How can start-ups get involved with Sky?

To get in touch, please email

To read more about Sky’s approach, please see here.

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Image courtesy of SVC2UK CEO Summit 2015.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 644104.


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